chapter  7
11 Pages

Divided by geography? NATO’s internal debate about the eastern and southern flanks

ByPatrick Keller

The history of NATO has been one of internal debates. These debates have often been misinterpreted as near-existential crises for NATO. Critics have always revelled in the description of opposing views and arguments among NATO member states, predicting the hollowing out and eventual demise of the Alliance. In fact, these debates are a sign of the vitality and continuing relevance of NATO. The purpose of the Alliance is to provide security for all its members, but security threats are constantly changing. In order to fulfil its purpose, NATO needs to adapt and respond to the challenges of the times. In an alliance like NATO, stretching from the Baltics to the Beaufort Sea, from Ankara to San Francisco, 'flanks' are inevitable. NATO's eastern and the southern flanks are not treated equally, but they were both addressed according to their impact on Alliance security and to the sufficient satisfaction of all member states.